Facets of Motherhood

This is guest post from Adrienne Schenck.  She’s a woman of God who finds just the right words to capture all the big feelings.  Her social media post resonated with my heart today.   I  think it will touch yours as well.  Happy Mother’s Day.

Thinking today of the many facets of motherhood… there is a woman in the world right now who is planning to place her baby with us in 7 weeks.
The magnitude of that and how she might be feeling today is not lost on me.

The ones who have lost mothers, or wish desperately to be one, I think of you all and leave a space in my heart for your grief.

To my mama, who is still and will always be one of my favorite people on the planet, thanks for everything, especially teaching me to be strong, confident, and creative, because I’ve got girls to teach the same.

To my husband’s mom, I have no idea how you did it, but thank you. He’s probably the best husband and dad ever, but I may be a little biased.

Happy Mother’s Day to the tired, arms full mamas, to the mamas whose kids have flown the nest, and to the ones for whom Mother’s Day is a sad reminder. Love you all.

Finding Room in the Car

“So how did you end up fostering?” I always smile when someone asks me this question.

It was a Saturday night. Our family was walking to our car in a dark parking lot. We piled into the large sedan. It wasn’t quite blue and it wasn’t quite purple. We fondly dubbed it the blurple car. We recently downsized and routinely squeezed our family of five into the Elantra. Our goal was simple. Pay off debt and save more money. The low gas mileage would help us achieve our goal. Plus, my husband could literally walk to work. It would be a small, but livable sacrifice. We knew we’d upgrade later to a larger vehicle, but for now we were a one vehicle family paying off debt and saving for the future.

But something was nagging at me and surprisingly it wasn’t one of our three kids squished in the backseat. Someone had mentioned foster care earlier that evening. It was a casual conversation, nothing fancy or spectacular. Nevertheless, it caused a spring of desire to well up within me. The idea of becoming a foster parent was foreign and surprising. I kept pushing the notion to the back of my mind, but it kept coming back like a hound dog sniffing it’s way home. I needed to say something.

“Honey, I kind of feel like we are supposed to get involved with foster care,” I mentioned to my husband.

“Me too,” he replied. Then he expressed the same concerns I had. They were the same thoughts that made me reluctant to even mention the idea. “But how would we do that? We just downsized our vehicle. It doesn’t make sense.”

“I agree. I don’t think we should purchase another vehicle. We made a commitment and I think we should keep it.” He nodded in agreement . “I guess if it’s something God wants us to do, he’ll just have to provide.”

The stars were shining high in the sky while we cruised down the interstate. There wasn’t much more to discuss about the topic. Our hearts had plenty of room. But there was no room in our car.

The following morning was Palm Sunday. There was nothing unusual about the day at first. We wrestled clean clothes on the kids and fed them breakfast and scurried to church to serve.

My husband was chatting with a musician and casually mentioned getting another used car.

“I don’t know where you can buy one,” the musician said, “But I have one I’ll give to you.”

My husband was stunned. Later, I was stunned when he told me. Then we both were stunned when we saw the white Jeep parked in our driveway on that sunny Palm Sunday.

“I think we’re supposed to become foster parents,” he said.

“I think you’re right,” I replied.

Let Truth Be Your Compass

Yesterday I had lunch with two amazing foster parents. We talked about the challenges of transition times. It’s just plain hard to be rational and calm when a case plan change catches you off guard. It’s a bizarre emotional journey that you don’t understand until you’ve been through it.

In some ways, it feels a lot like navigating a dense, dark forest. You have a compass to guide you, but there is a deep, unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. Maybe it’s a longing for light or a well worn path. Either way, it’s a tricky trek.

My grandma used to say, “We’re not out of the woods yet” when a situation seemed to improve but there were still risks ahead. Parenting in all it’s forms is a risky endeavor. Life, for that matter is risky.

Follow the compass. It’s your only hope in the woods of life. Truth is the compass. Our imaginations can be our own worst enemy. Fear and impulsive thinking can easily overwhelm us when we take our eyes off what we know. With truth as the compass, we can steadily make the journey one step at a time.

Try jotting down everything you know to be true. Let the truth guide you.

Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Healing

I’m on light duty letting my body heal. As difficult as it is for this go-getter girl to slow down, I’m following the doctor’s orders. My mind is a bit fuzzy as the anesthesia is slowly working it’s way out of my body, but I’ve been contemplating healing. We live and get hurt. But too often we ignore the healing process.

1. You can’t hurry healing. Sure there are miracles that inspire us. Instantaneous healings happen, but often healing is a process. Through the process of healing we have a unique chance to grow and come back stronger. Did you know that when a bone breaks, it heals stronger that it was before? But only if you don’t rush the healing process.

2. Healing is unpredictable. You just don’t know exactly how the process will happen. It might be messy and down right awkward. I’ll spare y’all the details. Be thankful.

3. It hurts. I had a moment last night where I began to question whether or not the surgery was worth all the pain. Would it really help me feel better? Healing can hurt, but it’s a sign we are alive and moving towards wholeness.

4. Gratitude goes a long way. As I think about the skilled and compassionate medical professionals, my supportive friends and my amazing family, I’m so thankful. Without them it would be hard to get better. But they’ve made this journey a little sweeter.

I’m trying to lean into this healing process, maybe for the first time ever. I think there are a lot of people like me who would prefer to avoid it all together. But in this broken world, healing is available. We need to be wise and receive it.

Whether physical, emotional, spiritual or social I pray that the healing process would be at work in you too.

Heal and be healed friends.

So thankful for my husband who has been my biggest supporter and encourager.

The Power of a List

Yesterday,  I finished reading Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo.   It inspired me by the sheer variety of list making possibilities.   I have to admit, I’m an avid list maker.   That’s probably why I got this book.  Who doesn’t like reading books that affirm what they already love? listful thinking

Last night, I sat in my car in the dark church parking lot waiting for my kids to get out of youth group.   Rizzo’s  ideas were floating around in my head so I decided to grab a notebook and make a list- actually two lists:

things that annoy me but are beyond my control  and things that annoy me that I have dominion and power over.

A curious thing happened as I compiled the lists.  First I began to let go of anxiety about things I can’t change- serenity prayer flashback.   I realized my emotional efforts in this area doesn’t change anything, but it does cost me precious energy.

Secondly, I realized I can change many of the things that annoy me that I have dominion and power over.   By shifting my focus, emotions and energy away from what I can’t control, I felt energized to tackle things I can control- like my messy coat closet.   (Which I tackled this morning for anyone who cares.)

This is one point Paula touches on in her book.   A list can be much more than a to-do checklist.   A list can be a brain dump.   A list can bring clarity. A list can help you organize your thinking and make progress.

How might making a list help you work through difficult situations on your parenting journey?  IMG_20180305_104649(1)

 

 

Losing It: A Plot Twist

I didn’t see this coming.   When I visited the doctor to  for my check ups, they found something unusual- 3 large cysts on my ovaries.  So Tuesday, they’re getting removed.

While it’s unfortunate that I have to have surgery, I feel thankful to have some solutions to the symptoms I’ve been encountering.

Did you know ovarian cysts:

  1.  Get your hormones out of whack.   Feeling hot flashes or imbalanced?    This could be the culprit.  My progesterone  is really low.   A result,  it’s hard to lose weight and I feel tired.
  2.  Cause abdominal pain.  I thought I was just feeling gassy, but that dull pressure that comes and goes was my body saying something isn’t right.
  3.  Cause urinary urgency.   I chalked this up to giving birth to three kids, but no.

It struck me how I simply accepted these symptoms as my new status quo.  How much have I needlessly suffered because I didn’t take time to listen to my body and schedule appointments?  Ugh!

I get it.   If you’re adopting or fostering, you likely have your calendar booked with home visits, parent visits, therapist visits, caseworker visits.    It seems impractical to schedule an appointment for something that may or may not need to be addressed when there are so many urgent things that NEED addressed.

We get trapped in thinking we can put off our needs.   But here’s the catch:  A family needs healthy, happy parents to be healthy and happy.   Do what it takes to get there. Maybe you need a day off, a gym membership, a doctor visit, a therapist, better nutrition.    If you have the means, make it happen.

Taking care of yourself is one of the most unselfish things you can do.   The children you take care of are precious gifts from God.  But don’t forget that you are too.

 

 

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Love Makes Room At the Table

 

She’s a caregiver, a spiritual mother, a pioneer in the work force, ministry and her community. She also happens to be the reason I met the man of my dreams. Colleen Benway runs circles around women half her age. Her wisdom and contagious laugh are a gift to all those she meets.

One thing that stands out about Colleen is her deep commitment to hospitality. I’m not talking about just inviting people over for meals. She invites people into her life. She’s never turned away anyone in need of a meal or bed. She’s so known for her open heart, her home is dubbed Hotel Benway.

Because of her stellar example, it was natural for my husband and I to say yes to opening our home to kids in need through foster care and adoption.

We watched her.  Grandma Benway miraculously always has enough. She knows you simply can’t out give God. Her example declares the joys of abiding with Jesus.  And  her table?  It’s always full of good food, laughter, and encouragement.  Why?  Because love makes room at the table.

 

All great change in America begins at the dinner table.  -Ronald Reagan

Losing It: Mother Yourself

Sometimes, I forget as I mother my kiddos, I need to mother myself as well.   Here are four ways you can join me in Mothering Yourself.

  1. Time to see the doctor.   I’ve scheduled ALL those medical appointments I’ve been putting off.   If I tell other people their health is important, my health is important too.    Two down and three to go.  Hooray.
  2.  It’s bed time.  Go to sleep.  Sure, it’s tempting to soak in the serenity a quiet house in the dark hours.   But seriously, go to sleep.
  3. Chew your food.  When the evening is full of activities, I find myself wolfing down food.   I’m not sure if I think this will buy me an extra few minutes or I’m worried about being late.  Either way, I need to slow down.
  4. Play with your friends.   Whether it’s a phone call or a girls night out,   get together with your  friends.    Studies show it’s great for your health.  

 

Blank Slate

January offers the hope of a blank slate.   All the mistakes of the last twelve months are captured in the past and suddenly the prospect of a new year lies before me.  January is full of promise, hope and de-cluttering.

This year I decided to make a list of 18 things to do in 2018 rather than traditional resolutions after listening to Gretchen Ruben’s podcast Happier.   I’m pleased to say I’ve marked several items off my list and feel like I’ve got some good momentum going for the year.

Today is the second day of February.  I have to admit, that wonderful blank slate feeling is starting to fade.  chalkboard

It got me thinking, though.  It sounds crazy, but sometimes I am unforgiving with my kids.  I chalk up their transgressions for future “teachable moments” or better yet “preventative strategies.”  It feels wrong on so many levels to admit this, but it’s the truth.

Sometimes I am guilty of holding on to  my irritation from  undesirable behaviors (euphemism for tantrums, outburst and fits).  It leaves me feeling on edge.  Here’s the sad thing:  When I don’t let go of the past, it shapes how I treat people in the present.

Walking in forgiveness is more that a Sunday morning sermon.  It means I give  the littlest people in my life permission to be human.  It means I extend grace and forgiveness it the trenches of child rearing.  Forgiveness frees me from the mistakes that defined the past; it grants permission to change.

I don’t have to wait for January or a new year to give my kids a blank slate.   I can forgive now.

 

Picture credit- Hobby Lobby  (aka my happy place)  Check out their website to buy a blank slate which is not the same thing as creating a blank slate, but it feels pretty good too.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes isn’t Yes Forever

I accidentally started seeing a therapist.   How does one accidentally do something which requires filling out paperwork, scheduling appointments and driving 20 miles?  Well, the initial visits were scheduled to address behavioral problems with a 2 year old.   It turns out addressing the behavioral problems in toddlers is best facilitated by addressing the behaviors in adults.

Therapy is like having a really good friend who listens well and gives you great advice.  This friend is extremely caring and invested.   Is it weird to pay someone to be your friend?  Therapy was helping our kids cope and I found myself quoting my, I mean the kids’,  therapist.

“Lucy says it’s good for me to do things I like to do.”

“Lucy says I’m holding on too tightly to control.”

“Lucy says I’m doing great.”

Needless to say I was disappointed when Lucy transferred.  I wasn’t sure anyone could replace her caring brown eyes and her exotic South American accent.  When I met the petite Alexandria,  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.  I missed Lucy.

But after our first session, she said something that stuck.

“Yes isn’t a ‘yes’ forever and ‘no’ isn’t no forever.”

Sure it’s not rocket science.   But I am such a strong-willed parent I want to give concrete, forever Yays and Nays.   It just seemed easier that way.  But maybe I misinterpreted the idea of letting your “yay be yay and your nay be nay.”

He was talking about being a person of integrity, not trying to process information that seems to constantly be changing.

Her comment reminded me that when it comes to parenting, change happens.  Adoption and Foster care are not concrete sciences.  They require fluid, flexible thinking.   I can  make the best decisions I can with the information I have at the moment.  As information and time evolve, decisions can change.